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THE MISSIONS
by Father Eliseus of the Nativity

  During the sixteenth century the vitality of the Catholic Church did not manifest itself merely by a movement of ascension, that is, by a flourishing of sanctity in which the contribution of Carmel was magnificent; there was also a simultaneous movement of expansion which sent apostles of Christ into newly opened territories in the wake of the explorers. The old mendicant Orders, as well as the Society of Jesus which was so marvelously adapted to the needs of the period, allowed themselves to be drawn far from Europe. In the bosom of the young Teresian Reform, dedicated principally to contemplation, a question arose which, at a given moment, seemed like an insoluble problem: “Should the sons of St. Teresa carry the Gospel to the infidels; should there be Discalced Carmelite Missionaries or not”

 To this question succeeding events gave a double reply. The Discalced Carmelites split into two congregations, that of Spain and that of Italy, the latter embracing all the Provinces founded outside the Iberian Peninsula, The Spanish congregation refused to permit its members to take part in the mission­ary movement; the Italian congregation, on the other hand, sent its religious to establish mission in Persia, Mesopotamia, Syria and the Indies. In 1875 when the Italian congregation absorbed that of Spain, the missions in the infidel countries were continued under the new unified Order of Discalced Carmelites, although they were in a considerably weakened condition at that time as a result of the ravages which political events had caused in the monasteries of Europe. These Carmelite missions have profited from the general increase of missionary activity during the past century and today some of them rank among the most prosperous of the Church and most of them are making con­tinuous progress. It is the history of these Teresian missions that we are about to sketch here by giving a brief account of their origin and development and concluding with a rapid summary of their present state.

 

ORIGIN

 The History of the Carmelite missions begins with serious discussions as to the possibility of sending monks of the Order of Elias into Infidel countries. Before following these religious as they leave Europe, we should first consider how the proposal in favor of the missions was greeted among them.

It should be pointed out, first of all, that St. Teresa of Jesus, in rejuvenating the Carmelite Order, imbued it with the apostolic spirit to a degree hitherto unknown. To be convinced of this, one has only to read the first chapter of the Way of Perfection. In these pages, addressed “to the Discalced Religious of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, according to the Primitive Rule,” let us quote only a few lines (written for the foundation of St. Joseph’s at Avila): “I learned of the misfortunes which were desolating France and of the ravages which the wretched Lutherans were causing there... It seems to me that I would have given a thousand lives to save a single one of those souls which were being lost in such great numbers in that country...I resolved therefore to do what little depended on me, that is, to follow the evangelical counsels with all the perfection of which I was capable, and to induce the few souls that were here to do likewise… I am heartbroken at the sight of so many souls being lost… O my sisters in Jesus Christ help me to beg this grace of the Lord. It is to this end that He has gathered you here, this is your vocation, these are your affairs, it is to this that your desire ought to tend,”

These words of St. Teresa are well known, but it is fitting to recall them here, for they definitely attach an apostolic aim to the Teresian vocation. Whenever the partisans of the missions in Carmel have appealed to the spirit of the Reformer to justify their views and demands, it has been particularly in these lines that they have found support for their arguments.

Some will object that there is a great difference between praying and doing penance, and running to the assistance of the infide1s. But definite facts can be adduced to bear out that the Carmelite apostolate, according to St. Teresa, need not be confined to prayer and penance for sinners. About four years after the foundation of the first monastery of the Reform, she had a conversation with a Franciscan just returned from America in which he spoke to her “of the millions of souls which were being lost in those territories for lack of religious instruction… and Teresa relates: “I was so heartbroken with grief at the thought of the loss of so many souls that I could not contain myself.. While I was under the shadow of this profound grief… Our Lord appeared to me., and showing me much love, He said, as if to console me: “wait a little while, my daughter, arid you will see great things...’ I found myself very much consoled and in a state of complete certainty that (these promises) would be realized. As to the manner in which it should be accomplished, it never occurred to my mind. As far as I can judge, six months passed in this fashion, and at the end of this time there happened what I am about to relate...” What the Saint is about to relate is the first foundation of Discalced Carmelite Friars. From this the advocates of missions in Carmel conclude, and not without reason, we believe, that there is a certain relationship between the pain caused to the Reformer by the loss of souls, the great things promised by the Lord and the reform of the Friars, Diego de Yepes, Bishop of Tarragona, who had been one of the Saint’s confessors relates the promise which we have mentioned and then adds: “It was somewhat later that Teresa, instructed by a heavenly light, received a particular insight into the words that Our Lord had spoken to her. She understood that through her the Reformed Carmel would become in the Church an immense tree whose fruits. ...would nourish not only...contemplative souls, but also the great sinners who live in the bosom of the Church and the infidels who have not yet submitted to the mild yoke of the Faith.” The promise of Christ to Teresa does not concern solely the apostolate of the Discalced, but, on the other hand, it foresees this apostolate, this gaining of souls by word, and among the beneficiaries of this zeal appear the infidels whose lot causes the Holy Mother such torment.

Moreover, one must not forget the satisfaction which the Reformer felt on seeing the good accomplished by her first two Sons at Duruelo.

In conclusion, here is a more decisive argument. When the foundation of the Discalced Carmelites was accomplished at Lisbon on January 19, 1582, Philip II, who had just united Portugal and its colonies to his Empire, asked for some Discalced Friars to preach the Gospel to the infidels of the Congo, Father Jerome Gratian, who was then Superior of the Reform, said expressly on that occasion: “By authority of the apostolic commissioner, I sent Father Nicolas Doria of Jesus and Mary to Italy, other religious to the West Indies and others to the kingdom of the Congo, in Ethiopia: in all this I was advised and supported by the same Mother.” (Teresa)

The matter is thus clear and incontestable, that St. Teresa approved of seeing her sons leave for the mission countries. In what measure and by what method would she have wanted them to go about this work? It would be vain and dangerous to try to state with precision what she had in mind, One fact is certain, that the Virgin of Avila had not as her goal a family destined primarily for the propagation of the faith by word, but she intended to see the, contemplative life flourish among the friars as well as among the nuns of Carmel, it is she, let us not forget, who, in the name of the Lord, applied to the Discalced those words which stand at the beginning of their Constitutions: “Let them converse very little with seculars, and that for the spiritual welfare of souls,.. Let them teach by deeds much more than by words,”

    On March 20, 1582, about six months before the death of the foundress, the five religious designated by Father Gratian left Lisbon bound for the Congo. One night the vessel which was carrying them struck another much larger one and split in two. In this shipwreck, from which only two sailors escaped, the first Carmelite missionaries were swallowed by the waves, The names of these victims of apostolic zeal were: Fathers Anthony of Saint Mary, Francis of the Cross, John of the Angels, Francis of the Ascension and Diego of Saint Bruno, first fruits of an abundant harvest. We know today that this Is so, but when the news of the accident reached the monasteries of Spain, the adversaries of the missions did not fail to see in the event an indication of Divine Providence, and others no doubt caught themselves wondering anxiously: ‘Who knows whether God desires it?”

Meanwhile Teresa of Jesus died. When one studies the origin of the Teresian Reform ha realizes that the genius of the Foundress, who thanks to maternal intuition and by dint of opportune intervention, was able to maintain a certain unity among the first leaders of the Discalced, men of very determined personalities and very different characters. Then the Madre disappeared, her sons found themselves at odds with one another and badly armed against those things which cause disunity. It was as a result of these dissensions, In which each one believed that he was defending the rights of God, that Father Gratian, for example, was finally driven from the Order, despite the marks of special esteem and affection that he had received from the Reformer, but let us not anticipate, Having met in the Chapter at Almodovar in May, 1583, the Discalced friars, after ruling on less important questions, found themselves forced to speak of the missions. The members of this assembly proved themselves, as has been said, “fierce hermits and enthusiastic missionaries”. At the head of the former appeared Father Doria, a great organizer and passionate defender of the observance, who maintained that the Reform should not run the risk of losing its fervor by leaving the boundaries of Spain. Gratian, on the other hand, was accused by the supporters of Doria of being bent upon “granting permission to wear linen, dispensing from fast and abstinence and from assistance at choir… He would have one believe that if God had renewed the ancient fervor among the sons of Elias in these latter times, it was in order that they might come to the aid of the Church attacked on so many sides by the heretics”. These accusations perhaps present the facts in an unfavorable light, but they permit one to guess in a general way the character of Gratian such as we know it from other sources and his own works display it.

But there was in this assembly a person who was neither provincial nor “delegate in Spain” and whose sentiments on the missions it is important for us to know, namely, Father John of the Cross. John, who had been previously stopped by Teresa while on his way to the Carthusians, could not, by temperament, favor any excess of exterior ministry, as did Gratian. On the other hand, it would be wrong to consider him an outright enemy of the apostolate. Father Eliseus of the Martyrs, who knew him intimately at Granada, spoke thus of him: “He said that to desire the welfare of one’s neighbor springs from the spiritual and contemplative life…The Rule has us observe the mixed life, in which the two lives, active and contemplative, are combined and harmonized… .This is the life which Our Lord chose for Himself as the most perfect.., I should add that when the Saint gave this instruction he said that it was not expedient to publish it because of the small number of religious”. We know, moreover, that at Baeza he was very active in the confessional and that from the time ha was superior the Fathers remained in the confessional morning and evening; it was his successors who limited the time for confessions at this monastery. Let us quote an unpublished tract which has to do with which we are concerned:

“One day at Granada during a recreation John of the Cross was seen building a little hill of gravel. Having divided it into several piles and put one little pebble aside, he stood there completely engrossed in looking at it. When ha realized that the religious were watching him, he said to them: “What attracts my attention is to see that in all these parts of the world Our God and Lord is not known and that He is known only in this little part. And even in this fact His Majesty says to us: pauci vero electi.” (Father Bruno)

These observations help us to understand the attitude of John of the Cross in the second Chapter of Almodovar as described by a religious who knew him well. On the one side, some rejected completely the idea of expansion outside of Spain, on the other, come dreamed of an excessive apostolate for the Reformed. “Putting himself in the midst of these two extremes, our beloved Father said that he did not believe it was the will of God that the Order of His Mother be bounded and restricted within the limits of Spain, but rather that it grow and spread throughout those Provinces of the Church in which it could keep its Rule.,.” (Quiroga) Thus John of the Cross approves in principle that the Sons of the Virgin go abroad, but on condition that they carry to the mission countries the example of the contemplative life, which assistance Pius XI (the Pope who declared him Doctor of the Universal Chuch) was one day to implore, calling it “ultra quam credibile acceptam et gratiam.” (Rerum Ecclesiae). At the Chapter of Almodovar the majority voted in favor of the missions, and since Gratian, the Provincial, was being pressed by the King, he attended to the matter without delay. In that same month of May five other Discalced set out for Guinea, but humanly speaking, the success was no greater than the first one. The wretched ship which carried the missionaries was attacked by English pirates who were especially intent upon mistreating the religious. On the point of being massacred, these zealous sons of Elias could not keep from singing of their good fortune, as had their ancestors of the l3th century who were slain by the Saracens within sight of Mount Carmel. This exhibition of joy caused the executioners to say: “It would give them too much satisfaction to make martyrs of them, as they say.” Stripped of their clothes, they were abandoned on the solitary shores of an island. They dragged themselves pain - fully toward the interior and arrived at the residence of the Bishop, who received them with all the consideration due to confessors of the faith. One of them died as a result of the privations endured and his companions were forced to return to Portugal.

More and more the adversaries of the missions criticized the boldness of the enterprise, and the others became more hesitant. After these two setbacks, the mission to the Congo seemed destined to be abandoned. But the King insisted, saying that the sanctity of the Discalced friars was necessary to attack error in those regions and that he would pay the expenses of the expedition. On April 10, 1584, after having surmounted grave difficulties, as one can well imagine, Father Gratian sent three of his religious in the footsteps of the ten who had disappeared. Eventually this third group arrived safely and immediately set to work with the greatest success. One should read the enthusiastic letters in which they told of the esteem in which they were held by the king of this country and of the immense good which one could anticipate in a country ripe for the faith. Francisco l’Indigne, a true saint, is said to have converted several thousand Negroes by himself. It la certain that the harvest fell thick under the sickles of these good workers.

                The Carmelite missions at last seemed well under way. Another event came to change all that. In the month of May In 1585, Father Gratian was replaced in his post as Superior of the Reform by Doria. This was the deathblow of the Carmelite missions for Spain. Doria, “our great Doria...the lion of Carmel” - as the chroniclers called him, resolved to smother this growing work in its infancy. As soon as he was in charge, he deprived the missionaries in the Congo of all assistance, no longer deigning to even write to them. The latter soon realized that, far from being able to count on the relief they asked, they were abandoned. The attitude of their Superior, who no longer answered their letters, dampened their zeal. So they returned to Spain. For the time being and for the future the iron will of Doria was imposed. The Province already existing in Mexico was not suppressed, but the Order in Spain no longer wished to be associated with the missionary movement. The first chronicler of the Congregation of Spain, partisan of Doria and obviously unjust toward Father Gratian, could not restrain himself from writing about the second Chapter of Almodovar at which the missions were approved: “Time has shown the wisdom of this resolution and what praise Father Gratian deserves for having provoked it; by leaving established in the Order such a precious benefit, he perpetuated his name and forced all impartial minds to forget the failings for which he has been reproached. It is certain, indeed, that if at the present time the Congregation of Spain has abandoned the work of the missions as one of its serious motives, the Congregation of Italy has applied itself to them with a zeal and a success which are well known through­out the whole Church. Spain applauds this whenever the occasion offers itself…  it glories in the work of its sister, principally, of course, for the glory which it renders to God, but also as a benefit which belongs to the whole Order and as an honor which reflects on our illustrious Mother St. Teresa of Jesus, the source and basis of these fortunate developments”.

                 Before being elected Provincial, Doria had founded a convent of the Reform in 1584 at Genoa, his native city. Two years later he obtained from the Roman Court a Brief authorizing him to open at Rome a house where a representative of the Order or Procurator would reside with his Socius. These foundations had not the purpose to facilitate the extension of the Reform outside of Spain, its only goal being to facilitate negotiations at Rome, for in that day great use was made of Briefs and counter-Briefs. When the Pope himself expressed the desire to see the Discalced friars established in Rome, this reply was sent to the Procurator along with a supporting royal dispatch: “It is not expedient under any circumstances to spread the Teresian Reform outside of Spain.” This time the views of Doria were not to prevail. Then the Procurator presented the message to Clement VIII, the latter replied: “Very well, let us separate those who live in Spain from those who live in Italy. Let the former handle them­selves as they think proper and the latter establish themselves in Rome and in other parts of the world”. This pontifical decision was to have, among other effects, that of reviving the Teresian missions stifled in their infancy by the iron glove of Doria.

In this same year (1597) a young man of noble family, a native of Calahorra, made profession at the Discalced Carmelite monastery in Valladolid. He was, called in religion Frater John of St. Eliseus. From early childhood John had always been preoccupied with the fate of the infidels, his attention being turned toward the Orient. When the young religious spoke of his aspirations, one can imagine how he was received. Some even relate that when he persisted, he was given a penance. Was it in order to get rid of him that four years latter his profession his Superiors added him to the group of religious sent to reinforce the Congregation of Italy? After arriving in Rome, John again announced his dream. His new Superiors, who had all come from Spain and had seen the divisions caused by this question, imposed silence on him. At Naples, where he was soon required for the new foundation, the incorrigible missionary by no means lost sight of distant lands. He spoke of the conversion of the infidels with such conviction to one of his penitents, the Baron de Cacurri, that the latter resolved to devote his fortune and his person to the work. The projects of Father John began to take shape, with the result that his Superiors became alarmed. At the time of his visit to Naples, Father Peter of the Mother of God, Superior General, severely repri­manded his too enterprising subordinate “It is high time,” he said, among other things, “to repress an indiscreet zeal which, as you well know, has been examined and condemned by the most judicious Fathers of the Order”. Father John remained calm, begged pardon and, in order to end once and for all his unreasonable aspirations, asked permission to make a vow, that of never again speaking of this project of the missions. Father Peter, a great man of God and a fine connoisseur of souls, recognized in this sign the mark of the Holy Spirit and did not give his authorization. Speaking of the matter to Father Paul Rivarola, local Superior of Naples, he found himself already won over to the idea of the missions; he examined himself and discovered that he was more in favor of the project than he wished to appear, and from that time his principal aim was to bring this question out in the open.

Immediately upon his return to Rome Father Peter submitted to the judgment of the Discalced friars of Rome and Genoa this question: Are the missions in conformity with the institute of the Reform of Carmel? At the came time he looked about him for the man who seemed best to unite both virtue and wisdom, fixed his choice on Father John of Jesus and Mary and charged him with writing a memorandum in response to the question. This memorandum proved that not only were the missions permitted to the Discalced Carmelites, but they formed an integral part of their institute. The conclusion was as follows: “Far from being prevented by the spirit of our vocation from approving the missions, we are no longer permitted to postpone this enterprise… for when the observance has become relaxed. It will be better to think of disbanding than of under - taking this work of the missions”. To reply to the objections of the opponents, who were not lacking either in Rome or in Genoa, Father John of Jesus and Mary composed a new Votum pro Missionibus. (it is well to note here that Father John in the Instructio_Missionum that he composed later, demanded that they build regular convents in the mission countries. The following is a very significant extract from one of his letters on the subject: “I should be more pleased if Father Vincent would make a foundation at Goa, because what they have begun to do in Persia is not producing religious... there has been formed only a community of three or four at the most, and, partly because of the king and partly for other reasons, the body of the community is breaking up; add to that… that one cannot hope to have novices from that nation; and one has an argument for preferring the foundation of Ormuz and Goa…”) This reply was peremptory. At Rome, as at Genoa, the Conventuals declared themselves in favor of the missions. Father Peter of the Mother of God hastened to speak of the matter to the Pope and expressed the desire of the Carmelites to go and found a house in Palestine, their native country. Clement VIII, who cherished the dream of having the king of Persia enter a coalition against the Turks, thought that the Discalced, for whom he had particular esteem and affection, would make excellent ambassadors to Chah-Abbas. He also dissuaded them from going to the Holy Land, objecting that the Franciscans were already located there, and expressed his desire to see them go to Persia. To be truthful, they had not thought of going so far in the beginning, but the word of the Pope was received as a manifestation of the Divine Will and they set about choosing the ambassador missionaries. The choice settled on Father Paul of Jesus and Mary, of the noble family of Rivarola, whom we have already met as Superior in Naples, and on the sympathetic Father John of St. Eliseus, who was at last to see his dreams realized: the preceding Lent he had fasted every day on bread and water to obtain the success of the missionary project then being discussed. In a very paternal audience the Pope added to their names the names of the apostles of Persia: Saint Simon and Saint Thaddeus, so that we must henceforth call them Father Paul-Simon and Father John-Thaddeus. The Superiors gave them as companions Father Vincent of St. Francis, a native of Valencia, and the lay-brother John of the Assumption, a native of Gubbio, and a former captain of the Spanish militia at Naples named Riodolid, a penitent of Father John of Saint Eliseus. As for the Baron de Cacurri mentioned above, he was persuaded that he could not leave his state, but his fortune was utilized partly for a seminary f or the missions and partly for the benefit of the Congregation of the Propaganda,

Our missionaries left Rome on August 7, 1604 and set out for Persia by way of Poland, Muscovite and the shores of the Caspian Sea. They recited their Office in common, made three hours of mental prayer a day and did not dispense themselves from any austerity imposed in the strictest convent. A historian remarks: “One would have called it prayer and penance marching together for the conquest of souls.” (Father Berthold-Ignatius)

After having known the greatest sufferings, snow, ice and torrid sun, thirst, all sorts of privations, after having undergone the worst insults from heretics whose country they crossed, deprived of the company of Brother John of the Assumption and of the worthy Riodolid who died on the way, they arrived at the gates of Ispahan, then capital of Persia, on December 2, 1607.

Chah-Abbas the Great received with great respect the missionary ambassa­dors of Clement VIII and was very much pleased with their presents. He made them a gift of a house in which the fervent Discalced hastened to inaugurate the regular life which they had safeguarded so perfectly during their journey. They intended to plant the contemplative life in these regions and to preach first of all by good example, “With a satisfaction which we still share three hundred years later the annalist of the Order in France recounted: “Our Fathers, having arrived in Persia, founded at Ispahan, capital of the country, a hospitium which became a true regular convent; in fact, they accomplished all the exercises and acts of community which are practiced in our convents, according to the customs and ceremonial of the Order” (Louis of St, Therese). Moreover, con­versions were not slow in coming; the first was that of the Ambassador from England, Sir Robert Sirley, and his wife. A Circassian princess named Sampsonia, who received the name of. Teresa at her baptism.
From this convent of Ispahan were to go forth the founders of the Carmelite missions in Mesopotamia, Syria and the Indies.
Before considering the development of these missions, let us return to Rome where events of interest were unfolding.

The religious of Rome and Genoa had declared themselves in favour of the missions, as we have said. Nevertheless, the question had not been officially resolved. At the General Chapter which met on May 1, 1605, the new Chapter Fathers were asked to declare themselves. Then there occurred something which we believe unique in monastic annals. All the Chapter Fathers, beginning with Father Ferdinand of St. Mary who had just been elected General, renounced the posts to which they had been elected and offered spontaneously to leave for the mission countries. At this Chapter they also decided to create a seminary for the missions and they inserted into the Constitutions the rules which were to assure the proper management of the establishment and of similar houses which should be created in the Reform. Such seminaries were later founded, in fact, in Malta and Louvain.

Meanwhile, since the Holy See was also preoccupied with the fate of the missions, the Pope found the sons of St. Teresa to be particularly valuable auxiliaries in assuring the success of this work. The Discalced Carmelites took a special part in the origin of the Congregation of the Propaganda, and their influence upon the creation of this Congregation was such that this question deserves to be treated a little more in detail.

 On March 31, 1922, on the occasion of the third centenary of the canonization of St. Teresa of Jesus, Pius XI addressed to the Order of Discalced Carmelites a letter from which we quote the following passage: “We do not wish to pass over in silence the influence that the Discalced Carmelites had on the Congregation of the Propaganda, to whose foundation they contributed not a little by their advice and persistent efforts in the service of the Apostolic See, as is attested by the acts of Clement VIII, Paul V and Gregory XV”.

Was it to a pious tradition that the Pope of the missions, who was known to be a good historian, was making reference here? To what events do the pontifical words rightly apply?

We already know Father Gratian, has enterprising zeal for the salvation of souls, the opposition which developed against him among the partisans of Doria. These latter regarded Gratian as a man of ill omen and came to imagine that only one means remained to prevent him from doing harm: expulsion. In 1592 Gratian, dressed in the black cassock of Seculars, left the Monastery of Madrid. For fifteen years he was to wander throughout the world, without even succeeding, despite his persistent efforts, in regaining his place among his brothers. Captured by pirates in the course of a voyage to Rome, he made the acquaintance of the famous prisons of Tunis; he was branded with the sign of the cross on the soles of his feet and, while waiting for martyrdom, brought spiritual assistance to his follow prisoners. Ransomed after eighteen months of atrocious sufferings, he returned to Rome where he was accepted among the Carmelites of the Ancient Observance. His captivity having permitted him to observe on the spot the misery of those whom the light of the Gospel had not reached, he conceived a keen desire to see the Holy See organize assistance for the infidels. He himself relates in the book of his Peregrinations: “On my return from captivity I sent several memoirs to Clement VIII, one of which was printed under the title of Redemption of the Captives, and I begged him to take pity on the fate of so many souls. These memoirs and the constant solicitude with which I spoke of this matter with the Cardinals of Rome con­tributed toward having chosen and instituted a Congregation which is called Propaganda Fide, presided over by Cardinal de Santa Severina,”

This Cardinal de Santa Severina - - Antonio Santori - — composed the journal of his audience with the Holy Father, which permits us to verify the affirmations of Gratian. The Rev. Father Florent of the Infant Jesus deserves the credit for having searched the Roman Archives with the view of verifying the affirmations of the authors of Carmel concerning the origins of the Propaganda. Concerning the audience of May 6, 1599, we are told: “On the memoir of His Holiness, with the view of promoting the Catholic Religion in the Orient, in order to found a Congregation of Cardinals”. It was just at this time that Gratian was called by the Pope, as he himself says: ”because of his Memoirs, in order to be present at the Congregation and to explain what he proposes with ha Memoirs”. On August 16, 1599 we find the Congregation meeting with the view of working for the propagation of the Catholic Faith; it was at the audience of January 6, 1600, that the Cardinal of Santa Severina first assigned it the definite title of Congregation De Propaganda Fide, and the same Cardinal again informs us in his journal that in the audience of April 13th of the same year the said congregation decided to send to Africa, in order to bring there the grace of the Jubilee, a Capuchin, Father Ambrose de Soncino, and Father Jerome Gratian. The latter notes, in fact that he then went to Morocco where he was able to do some good for the captives and renegades.

Having left Roma for Africa, Gratian was never to see the Eternal City again. On returning from the Barbary country he went directly to Flanders, where be lived for nine years. It was at the monastery of the Calced Carmelites of Brussels that ha died an September 21, 1614,

Thus the Congregation of the Propaganda existed at Roma and had held its meetings officially since the year 1599, as is attested by the Journal of the audiences of Cardinal de Santa Severina. This same journal.., however, no longer makes any mention of the Congregation after March 10, 1601. An official document informs us that the said Congregation was not producing the results that had been expected, “whatever may be the cause” of this failure.

Clement VIII meanwhile became more and more preoccupied with the fate of the infidels. While waiting far the resumption of activity on the part of the moribund Congregation, he case his eyes on the counsellor whom probably he consulted the most, namely, Father Peter of the Mother of God. We have already met this Discalced Carmelite at Naples and at Rome when the question of the missions was raised in the Order of which ha was Superior General; since that time his prestige at the Papa1 Court had greatly increased. “Being cognizant of his faith and his completely apostolic charity,” says Venerable John of Jesus and Mary, “the Pope charged him with the care of the universe and desired to be instructed and advised by him on all matters which be should judge useful for the conversion of the Infidels.” (Life of Peter of the Mother of God). “He was named (says another historian) Superintendent General of the Catholic Missions for the Propagation of the Faith, and after the death of Clement VIII, Paul V confirmed him in the post.” (Historia Missionum Carm. Disc., complementary chapter, - Castelucci intimates that the reason the projected congregation could no survive was the bad will of the Catholic sovereigns, and then adds that for the dissolved Congregation, Clement VIII substituted a Secretary General of the Missions, the Ven. Peter of the Mother of God. Certainly Father Peter was not content with merely bearing this title. At this period of his life he was interested in the most distant missions. His great preoccupations, as his correspondence proves, were the union of the Copts with Rome, the conversion of the schismatics of the Holy Land and the fate of the missionaries of Japan and the Congo. On August 27, 1608 when, at the age of 46, this monk on whom three Popes had tried in vain to impose the purple of the cardinalate died, Paul V cried in the midst of the consistory: “We have lost Father Peter, a great and strong pillar of the Church has fallen”.

Before speaking of Father Peter’s successor in the post of Superintendent of the Missions, we should mention another Discalced, Father Thomas of Jesus, who appears as a precursor in the work of the propagation of the faith. It is to this eminent religious that the Teresian Reform owes the creation of the holy deserts whose existence was to underline in so characteristic a manner the return to the primitive spirit of Carmel: the deserts, in fact, are solitary monasteries where the eremetical life is lead without any ministry, in perpetual silence. It happened then that Father Thomas, while celebrating the Holy Sacrifice in the desert of Las Batuecas, suddenly felt himself animated with an irresistible desire to go to the infidel countries. This dream was never to be realized. The mission of Thomas of Jesus was to be that of planting the Teresian Reform in Flanders. However, he contributed none the less effectively to the conversion of souls, thanks to his two works. The Stimulus Missionum is addressed especially to religious and demonstrates that the most perfect Orders are called to the apostolate in infidel countries. More important for its volume and contents is the De procuranda salute omnium gentium. As one reads this work he wonders how, at the beginning of the l7th century, the author was able to embrace in a glance most of the questions which, in time, were to come to light in the preoccupations of the Church concerning the conversion of peoples. There are missionary works whose necessity was not understood and whose creation was not realized until after the Great War, of which Father Thomas of Jesus demonstrated the necessity and suggested the creation. One chapter of this work is entitled “The Erection of a Congregation pro Fide Propaganda”. “The first thing to do, says the author, “is to set up at Roma a small congregation of persons remark­able for their zeal and prudence who, at fixed times, would meet to consider the assistance to be sent to all peoples”. Then ha goes into detail on the duties which would fall to the members of this assembly, such as the organization of assistance and the publication of religious books in native languages. When a few years later Rome was able to furnish the apostolic man entrusted with forming the Congregation of the Propaganda, the latter regarded the work of Thomas of Jesus as its classic manual. At its meeting on March 26, 1624, for example, it ordered the purchase of twenty-four copies. Two editions of the work appeared in 1613, and during the General Chapter of 1632 the Discalced Carmelites saw arriving one day the Cardinal Vicar, sent expressly by Urban VIII to ask the Superiors of the Order to have the works of Father Thomas of Jesus on the missions republished. It was on May 26, 1627, that this worth son of St. Teresa died at Rome, where he was Definitor General. His body rests near that of St. Peter of the Mother of God in the convent of Santa Maria della Scala.

   While the work in which Father Thomas demanded that the Holy See busy itself actively with the missions was being circulated in Rome, another Dis­calced Carmelite filled the post of Superintendent General of Catholic Missions, namely the Venerable Father Dominic of Jesus and Mary, appointed in 1604 to replace the deceased Father Peter. Born in Calatayud (Tarragona) in 1569, Dominic de Ruzzola was raised by the Carmelites of the Ancient Observance from the age of eight, made profession in 1585, later embraced the Teresian Reform and came to Rome with the first Discalced Carmelites who formed the Congregation of Italy. What is read in the lives of the most extraordinary saints is also discovered in his life, in which all would seem to have been romanticized at will, if the facts were not confirmed by the depositions of witnesses at the process of beatification. His incorrupt body still bears witness to his sanctity. But what is of interest here is the efforts employed by the Venerable Dominic for the establishment of the Congregation of the Propaganda.

  The post of Superintendent of the Missions convinced Father Dominie of the necessity of creating the new Congregation. He employed all his influence, which was very great, to assure the success of this new organism of the Pontifical Court. Six witnesses declare in the process of his beatification that by his urgent appeals to Paul V and Gregory XV he was the promoter of the Propa­ganda. Father Alexander of Jesus and Mary, his companion during several years and later General, declares that “to promote the Catholic Faith in infidel countries, ha induced Gregory XV to set up the Congregation of the Propaganda Fide…” and that he was admitted to its membership for having been the principal promoter. Let us note well that these depositions made at Rome have bearing on the facts which took place there. On January 6, 1622, when the Congregation of the Propaganda, set up by Gregory XV, held its first official assembly, it numbered three Cardinal Bishops, several Cardinal priests, two prelates, Father Dominic of Jesus and Mary and a secretary. Why was this religious, the only one of his kind, accorded a place in this assembly of prelates, unless because of the influence that he had exercised by his steps to have this Congregation set up?

  It soon became apparent that great sums would be necessary to permit new work to attain its end, and it was again Father Dominic to whom recourse was had. Thus he was charged with gathering funds. One of his biographers, Father Philip of the Trinity, during a stay in Rome in 1627, inquired as to the amount of money collected by the Venerable Father and was given the figure of 80,000 crowns (ecus) (about $96,800.00). Moreover, the Roman archives make it possible to verify the probability of this affirmation. The Secretary of the Congregation wrote in April 1623 to the indefatigable Discalced: “The results of the ardent charity of Your Reverence for this holy work of the Congregation of the Propaganda Fide are so great that they surpass the expectation of Our Holy Father and the Cardinals and fill us with astonishment and admiration”.

  On February 16, 1630 when Father Dominic of Jesus and Mary, Papal Legate, died at Vienna, the official communication of his death sent by the Imperial Court was read in the following session of the Congregation and transcribed into the official acts with a eulogy of the deceased. Moreover, his portrait was placed in the Aula Maxima of the Congregation with an inscription which describes Father Dominic as “famous for his renowned sanctity, outstanding Promoter and Benefactor of this Congregation”. The preceding is a very brief account of the data furnished by the Carmelite Annals and the Roman Archives concerning the influence of the Discalced Carmelites in the origins of the Congregation of the Propaganda. Other influences intervened, whose existence we cannot deny, but that of the Discalced of Carmel not be ignored, which seems to have been preponderant and demands the attention of those who are interested in the general history of the Catholic missions.

     
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